Construction tech classes on the way

BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Clarkston Community Schools is expanding its Career Technical Education (CTE) program by adding a Construction Technology pathway at Clarkston Junior High School (CJHS).
“Dr. Rock saw that as a district we had sort of lost sight of the students in the skilled trades area. We’ve been focusing on college prep, which is a good thing, but we were missing the mark with a good number of students,” said Kevin Emmons, subject area coordinator for CTE teachers.
Emmons, who is also a CTE teacher for the engineering pathway, investigated offering classes focused more on skilled trades and construction technology, and fell into a good place to start. He said the class used to be offered at the high school, so there’s a preexisting curriculum, and CJHS has a shop room and a teacher for the program.
“It’ll just be an introduction to students who are interested in construction, actually building a house or building walls or building ramps, working with wood,” said CJHS Principal Adam Kern. “These are students who a four-year university may not be right up their alley, so we’re just trying to provide a better opportunity for these students to be successful.”
CTE programs in Clarkston receive federal funding for equipment and other class costs, Emmons said, but in order to receive funding the program has to cover certain content areas, which would require having an advanced construction tech class as well.
Kern said they’ve never offered a Construction Tech II class before. He is hoping these classes will act as a bridge for students interested in construction.
“The second semester is getting more of the nitty gritty, in terms of framing, wiring, going out onto job sites,” Emmons said. “More the advanced level stuff, budgeting, project management, green technologies, heavy equipment.”
The new construction class will start being offered fall of 2017 and the construction tech II class fall, 2018.
There are also plans to allow tenth graders to enroll in the class and go over to the junior high during their last hour, Emmons said. If students want to continue construction education after that, there’s a program at Oakland Technical Center for juniors and seniors.
Besides that program, Kern said he wants to help students connect to construction programs post-secondary education, such as at Oakland Community College or a heavy machinery operators union in Howell.
There’s a large need for skilled workers, Kern said. Schools aren’t focused enough on the fact students will become heavy machine operators or plumbers or welders, etc., which is why they’re introducing the construction tech program.
“We are also currently working on trying to form some partnerships with the skilled trade unions and their apprenticeship programs,” Emmons said. “It’s very important that we meet all kids needs and we give them a path, whether it is going to college and knowing a career or whether it’s going to a skilled trade. We want them to know before they leave high school.”
Aside from the new construction tech program, the other five CTE pathways offered at the high school are Business, Finance and Marketing, Computer Information Systems, Engineering and Design Technology, Family and Consumer Science, and Media.
Students can be exposed to a CTE class as early as sixth grade, Emmons said, with programs such as STEAM, Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Math, and coding. Because of the demand from students for more of these types of classes, a coding II class is going to be introduced to the middle school next year as well.
The high school and junior high also offer sampling courses, which allow students to try units from the different pathways and figure out if they might want to pursue a specific one.
“Our number one goal is opportunity. Give kids a chance to try stuff on for size,” Emmons said. “Take a semester of it and see if you like it, and if you don’t well it’s better that you did it now than you did it after high school, in college or in the job placement where it’s harder to start over.”